Coyote Soup

Bringing life back to the family ranch with three young free range braves and lots of organic elbow grease.

A Good Seed October 4, 2012

Filed under: Gardening,Musings,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 12:38 pm
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Once upon a time, I lived on a farm.

On this farm, I had a garden.

It was a good garden. Free from weeds. Fertile. Full of only good seeds and plants. Surrounded by lush, soft, beautiful green grass that smelled heavenly when cut. I’m obsessed with the smell of fresh cut grass lately. Mostly because the drought has deprived me of the scent I didn’t realize I craved. I smelled it for the first time in a long time when Drover mowed the few blades of grass in our yard the other day. I’ve been in a state of euphoria ever since.

Looking back at old pictures of this garden, I remember the euphoria it imposed upon me. And not just the garden, but the farm in general. The farm that has been in my family for years and years and will continue to be in my family for as long as I live. It’s the farm that we spent so much time restoring and manicuring. We built 4 big, new barns to replace the ones destroyed by the tornado. We dug nice deep ponds that filled with water back when it rained. We stretched sturdy, tight fences that actually contained the livestock we put behind them. For the most part.

In other words, we worked hard on this dairy farm.

‘We’ meaning Drover for the most part, I helped as best I could.

Each day I would throw my hair up in a bun and wrap it in a doo rag and head out to help Drover take care of whatever needed to be taken care of.

Looking back now it seems this typically involved dealing with manure.

Scraping manure from the lot… scrubbing manure from the walls of the barn… shoveling manure out of the chicken house…

My hair just wasn’t ever up for any of this. Hence the doo rag.

I don’t know why, but for some reason this picture always reminds me of the time when there was a thick layer of snow on the ground and I was going out to feed the bottle calves. Instead of just stopping at the doo rag, I decided to add a warm black knitted stocking hat… the kind that not only goes over your head, but your entire face with cutouts for the eyes, and mouth.

It also happened to be the day the vet was coming out to preg check some cows. He was dressed in Levi’s, a flannel shirt and a Carhart vest. No hat. I remember him looking at me with smiling eyes, trying to hide his amusement and saying, “Oh come on… it’s not THAT cold!”

Clutching the bottle carriers in both hands, making my way toward the barn, I tried to respond, to defend my cozy head piece, but by then the knit cap had worked its way up over my mouth and all that came out was mumbles.

Which brings me to where we are now.

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Gardening at the ranch.

The ranch that has been in Drover’s family for many, many years.

The ranch that we decided needed a little sprucing up…. new fences… new ponds… new barns… new garden…

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It’s a good thing we have three little braves to help us out.

They’re pretty good boys.

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This one here…

He’s a good seed.

I think I’ll keep him.

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How to Plant Garlic October 19, 2011

Filed under: Gardening — Piper Long @ 7:12 am
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Being mid-October, there’s not much going on in the garden.

Surprisingly, my tomatoes are lush, green and full of blooms. But if this morning’s frost doesn’t get them, tomorrow’s will.

Typically, the first frost means it’s the end of the growing season, but believe it or not, it’s the ideal time to plant garlic.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Grab the unused store-bought garlic from your pantry.

2. Break it apart.

(Each clove should produce a clump like we started with.)

3. Stick them in the ground, pointy part up, about 2 inches deep, giving them at least five inches of elbow room.

4. Cover the bulbs with dirt and mulch them with leaves, straw or hay.

That’s it!

Come spring, we should all have garlic galore!

Happy planting!

~Piper

 

Drought Resistant Flowering Annuals September 14, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,Gardening,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 5:52 am
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When I first started learning about plants, at around age 18, I remember the greenhouse owner pointing out certain plants that were “drought tolerant.”

Like, why do I need like, drought tolerant plants or whatever? I thought.

I like, have a like, steady supply of, like rural water… and I like plan to give them water, like daily n-stuff.

I didn’t really talk like that at 18.

I was like totally mature… n-stuff.

Sorry.

So because I paid no attention to the wisdom of the greenhouse owner, I watered my plants. But I usually ended up watering every other day… and then every couple of days… and then maybe once a week. But still… in my 12 years of gardening at the farm, they always performed beautifully.

Then I recently moved to the desert.

I mean ranch.

And I had a not-so-steady supply of well water. The natural, steady rains ceased. And the word “drought” began popping up more and more. Most of my plants decided they simply were not going to “tolerate” it any longer.

The dogs, cats and chickens all thought it was absolutely wonderful and completely brilliant that I would have nothing but dirt in my flowerbeds.

Seriously, this is like, totally awesome to like, have soft dirt to like lay on n-stuff.

They were so agreeable, in fact, that they loathed in the dirt on a daily basis with their heads resting on each other’s hind end.

Not really, but close.

There were however, two varieties of flowering annuals that survived it all.

The prolific Vinca. Which flowers beautifully until frost, re-seeds and allows the offspring to appear the following year. I typically only buy a six-pack of the Vinca each spring, plant them where I expect the seeds to emerge, and let the new seedlings fill in around the existing plant.

And the other remaining plant in my flowerbed….

…came in a two-inch pot. I can’t remember the name. But it’s a keeper.

 

Harvesting and Storing Onions June 3, 2011

Filed under: Gardening,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 9:27 am
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Yesterday, I harvested all of my onions.

Here is a portion of my harvest…

Despite the never-ending presence of weeds in my onion patch, I ended up having a decent onion crop. Throughout the spring, I have been plucking onions here and there to use on an as-needed basis.

I wish this arrangement would work for the remainder of the growing season. But it doesn’t.

Right about the time the bulb just begins to disconnect from the green stalk, I know it’s time to harvest.

If the stalk disconnects from the bulb, the onion bulb will soon soften in the ground and decompose.

But if I harvest everything when the stalk is still strong enough to sustain a strong tug without breaking away from the bulb, I can cut off the green tops and store them.

I can even get the kids to help with the chore of cutting. They are pretty much game for anything that involves sharp objects and destruction.

The onion on the right has a good cut for storing. The onion on the left is a little too close to the bulb for long-term storage. This onion will need to be used much sooner.

Once the onions have been cut, I let them dry, cut side down on a wire rack in a cool, dry place until I need them. Here, I’ve set up an old wire grill between two blocks. Not real fancy, but it will do the job.

Stored like this, the onions will usually last for several months.

 

Scrambled Eggs with Wild Onions March 21, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,Home and Garden,Recipes — Piper Long @ 5:57 am
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My favorite thing about the arrival of spring is the beginnings of life not only in my garden…


(strawberries)

But also in my pecan grove, aka, my wild garden.


Look closely.

It’s not just grass, weeds and flowers.

It’s also chock full of wild onions.

Daisy loves them just as much as I do.

I stumbled upon this patch of wild onions completely by accident.

It was mid-spring of our first year on the farm and I decided it was time to groom the patch of vegetation down the lane. So I hopped on the mower and powered up the blades. Within a few short minutes of mowing… I found myself weeping.

It was a mixture of tears brought on by an overwhelming aroma of chopped onions and sheer joy. I couldn’t believe that a food item emerged voluntarily on my land.

Would have been nice if It’d emerged in my garden. Or better yet in the planter right outside of my front door. But I’m happy all the same. And the fact that they return year after year, is enough to convince me that they are happy too. And it’s always good to eat happy food.

I think.

Since my chives haven’t fully returned from their long winter’s nap, the wild onions are a perfect substitute.

And the best part of all? They’re free!

My absolute most favorite way to eat them is with scrambled eggs. It’s just not spring until I’ve had my Scrambled Eggs with Wild Onions.

First, crack your eggs in a bowl, like this.

Give them a whirl.

Pour em in a pan with a little butter.

Add the wild onions.

Then plate them up with some toast and fresh fruit!

As the mushrooms get here, I will have myself a bona-fide breakfast omelet.

If only I could get my little cowboys to appreciate the fresh spring flavor…

 

Bees on my Flowers March 13, 2011

It’s March and I don’t have much blooming in my garden.

In truth, the ranch house yard looks a little barren.

Except for this lone patch of friendship flowers. A sure sign of welcome, right by the ranch house door.

Knowing that daffodils don’t hang around for long, especially when there are three thoughtful flower picking boys around, I decided to snap a picture.

That’s when I heard something buzzing.

It was a bee!

While my children ran for cover, I decided to take a closer look.

I think the bee hit the jackpot on this bloom.

Soon there were several bees.

One on every bud. All working peacefully until the goods ran out.

Then the fight was on.



Can’t we all just get along?


Look at it using it’s little pollen covered leg to ward off the intruding bee.

An encouraging sign of spring.

Barefoot Indian

 

Planting My Spring Garden March 12, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,Gardening,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 11:42 pm
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My potatoes and onions are officially in the ground! It’s a good thing too because my legs are so sore, I may be bed ridden for the next couple of months.

Just Kidding.

I think.

I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Let me just say first and foremost, that I could not have done this without my stellar children.

And they couldn’t have helped work the soil without this stellar tiller. It is hands down THE best tiller I’ve ever had. Every other tiller I’ve owned would jerk the snot out of me. Not this one. It works so smooth, I trust my little man with it. (Don’t worry, I just stepped back to take a quick picture.) We bought it at an end of season sale when our old jerker quit.

This year I planted…

5# Pontiac Red Potatoes
What big eyes you have!

5# Yukon Gold Potatoes
Love the creaminess of this variety.

6 bundles 10-15 Onions
My favorite variety. I chose the onion plants over bulbs simply because they have a better survival rate considering my volunteers are still a bit young.

3 bundles red onions
I don’t know exact variety, but it was the only option. Sometimes that’s a good thing.
I like to plant my onions close together to take up less space in my garden. That way I can just loosen the dirt between the rows with a hoe instead of the tiller.

1 package Baby Spinach
I’m so excited to see how this variety performs.

1 package beets
These are a colorful addition to my booth at the market. I’ll plant another package in a few weeks. Hard to believe a bright, colorful beet comes from this tiny seed.

1 package Butterhead Lettuce
I usually only plant mesclun lettuce, but I couldn’t make it to the seed store and had to make due with the hardware store’s limited selection. Didn’t think I could go wrong with a “butter” lettuce.

1 package Cherry Belle Radishes
These will be ready before the market starts, but I plan to plant a mid-season variety in with my carrots soon.

I still have more to add, but this is a good start for me. I will be participating in the Osage Hills Farmer’s Market this year, so I’m planting a bit more than my family needs. My biggest seller at the market is corn followed by zinnias – two of my favorite plants to grow. I don’t plant either for a couple more weeks.

 

 
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